Towneley Hall, Burnley

by David Murray on 18 April 2012

in East Lancashire, Galleries, Historic Houses, Lancashire, Museums

Towneley Hall, Burnley was built over many centuries, from the early-15th to the 19th, as home to the Towneley family. Historically, although many have been eminent public servants, the most famous member of the family was possibly Charles Towneley, the 18th century collector whose marbles and brasses form an important part of collections at the British Museum where he was an early trustee.

Probably the best known of the modern branches of the family have been the journalist Sir Peregrine Worsthorne (Worsthorne being the name of a village just over the hill facing Towneley Hall) and his brother Sir Simon Towneley who changed his name to realign with the family history and lived close by Towneley at Dyneley Hall. Sir Simon was Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire from 1976 to 1996.

Towneley Hall Today

Towneley Hall

Towneley Hall, 2012

The ancient family home was sold to the town council 1901 and the way they have maintained and developed Towneley Hall and its parkland is a credit to them.

Having initially been acquired as an almost empty property, the collections built over the years are outstanding. They range across furniture, textiles, local history, natural history, sculpture and paintings.

In the 1950s as a teenager living nearby on Woodgrove Road I was in and out of the Hall frequently, and especially recall gazing wonderingly at the painting by Marten van Valckenborch I of The Building of the Tower of Babel (c1600) hanging on one of the stairway walls (not to mention the big stuffed brown bear that was the main attraction as a younger child, and is still there). In recent years the National Heritage Memorial Fund has supported the purchase of an 1807 Carrara marble bust of Charles Towneley, by Joseph Nollekens, so that it could be restored to Towneley Hall the collector’s former family home.

Whether spending hours exploring the museum and galleries, or wandering through the woods and across the parkland to the young River Calder, an afternoon at Towneley is an afternoon well spent. It is one of East Lancashire’s special gems – indeed, to my mind, supremely so. There are many marvellous countryside walks near Towneley both up into the hills and along the Cliviger Gorge. Here now is a selection from this past Monday morning.

Towneley Hall - Burnley - East Lancashire

Towneley Hall, Burnley, East Lancashire - April 2012

Towneley Hall - Looking over the lawn from the West

Towneley Hall - Looking over the lawn from the West

Townley Hall - Looking over the Italian Garden to the South Wing

Townley Hall - Looking over the Italian Garden to the South Wing

The Cenotaph - Towneley Hall - Burnley

The Cenotaph, Towneley Hall, Burnley - Looking east over the Italian Garden

Towneley Hall - Looking west from the hall up to Foldys Cross

Towneley Hall - Looking west from the hall up to Foldys Cross


Be Sociable, Share!

Previous post:

Next post: